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Fauldon’s Dream

And the Karier of the Task








By Enoch K. Enns









Published by AuthorHouse 01/13/2017

1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403






Copyright 2017 Enoch K. Enns. All rights reserved.

Heed These Words


For those who wished rather a sequel, I heed you to not take for granted the significance of the story herein. This is a door to that Grand Hall that bears much weight and meaning in that which is to come. To those that this is the first: welcome. Welcome to the Realm of Euphora and its inhabitants. May your attention be swept into an adventure so refreshing, so imaginative, that you rediscover the youth of your mind and the creativity it retains.

I could not have done this without you, Alaina—my wife and greatest companion. Your support was unwavering as you corrected far more mistakes than I would like to admit in my perfectly flawed writing. And to you, Abram—my son—I am joyed to raise you in a household filled with imagination and adventure. May you come to love these stories as I have loved reading them to you. May you renew my youthful mind and laugh and join in an endless adventure of the mind’s limitless imagination. For I publish this for you to enjoy.

For you to read one day.

And to you, my reader, I solemnly welcome your eyes and mind to read further, deeper, and in the richness of that which is to unfold before you and within your very mind.



FAULDON’S DREAM AND THE KARIER OF THE TASK


SCENE I:

He was just an ordinary man—why should I have chosen anyone else? To be simply answered: it’s because the simple man is the one who often brings about the biggest and greatest changes. And so he walked, hands in his coat pockets, eyes set forward through the bustling city crowds, on towards a small stand-alone booth of hope, his mind and heart progressing more swiftly than his anxiety and tired body could meet. Etched upon the wood paneling read deliverance to any city tramp: HILTON’S WORKS & HIRE. For work in such times was packed and the economy was complicated to say the least. Most would hold a job if only for a single task in a single day and have to resort to scurrying about for another job. All that to say, the life of a city tramp hinged upon a day-to-day existence—a never ending pit of seeking.

So seeing a “works and hire” would most obviously spur excitement and crowds as many would rush the opportunity to land a career job. In light of such, I should have admired more the timing of the choice being as there was no line awaiting him, for he now stepped into the booth—a small trickle of nervousness touching his spine. Before him a single desk resided, behind which sat a stout man in suit, hat, and tie. He took the cold steel chair in front of him, straightening his coat as he did. A sense of desperatecy to the occasion held him at the edge of his full potential, but that could have mattered less to me. Every man gets desperate. It’s what he does in it that should be of consideration. He was a respectable man.

“What is your name?” the man asked.

“Mr Fauldon,” answered he all in attempt at dodging the frog in his throat.

“Are you a respectable man?” sir Hilton, the interviewer, asked (for that was what the name Mr Fauldon could make out from the tag clipped upon his left).

“Why, yes, I do strive to be, sir Hilton,” replied Mr Fauldon, utilizing the awareness and hoping for the best.

The man showed a smile and leaned his arms upon the desk. “Good,” he said, “and it is good that you can read, though I’d hope you wouldn’t try anything too bold.”

“By no means whatsoever!” Mr Fauldon alarmed. “The thought would never have crossed my mind and neither would I ever conceive myself as doing such a thing.”

“So, you must be in your mid-thirties?” sir Hilton asked.

“Thirty-four, to be exact,” Mr Fauldon said with much dignity and pride, his nervousness starting to rub off.

“Mind me asking what it was your previous occupation might have been?” the man proceeded, flipping out a pen and loose leaf paper from his sleeve.

Mr Fauldon pondered for a moment.

“Never mind that,” sir Hilton added. “It’s the events at hand that you seek and that make you, not a reminiscence of the past. Now, why should I trust you with this job in comparison to, for say, the man who had come in before you? He too has looked worthy.”

“Feats of honor and heroism I may not have to offer,” Mr Fauldon answered with much considering, “but I do promise you my utmost effort and care in any and all tasks.”

The light flickered above him as the ground quivered to the tiniest and most insignificant earthquake to a city too distracted to notice. For the city’s structures were built tall, brave, and proud and able to withstand such accustomed occurrences. He sat there waiting for it to putter out and when it finally did he returned his gaze from the ceiling to the man in hat and suit. A whole new look had come across the man’s face as if he had just remembered something of greater interest to him. That man, folding up his loose leaf paper and putting away his pen, abruptly stood and pushed back his chair, not a single occurrence to his mind that he still was giving an interview, or that Mr Fauldon still sat in his cold steel chair waiting.

It was only a matter of moments before the man left the booth—Mr Fauldon utterly confused at the events. Not only that, but the man had exited through a rear door (there had only been one when he’d entered). To his surprise, having turned around to see if his own door was still there, he found it not! Queer—the look on his face. The kind that reminds you of a man who has struck such an un-knowing-ality of his surroundings that he is suddenly unaware of his own existence and perception of what had been reality to him.

He could only ponder for so long before his curiosity took the better of him (and I could quite agreeably agree.) Straightening his coat once again, he stood and proceeded to the rear door. I would be content enough to say he simply wanted out of that small booth now—though indeed he did want the job. Reaching out, he grabbed the door handle like any other ordinary man would in any other ordinary circumstance (which dealt with opening doors, that is). Also like any other ordinary man, he stepped through it—the slightest bit of disappointment crossing his mind to a much anticipated interview, seeming at abrupt end.

There he stood utterly dazed.

Before him was a world he’d never seen (one of more splendor than he could even possibly dream of—and I say “dream” because that was the look on his face). Colors filled the skies with streaks of vivid hues, and streams of silky wateriness flowed freely and independently high above him. Plants and shrubs and trees alike were of quite overly-peculiar shapes and in-proportional sizes. It was all nearly too much for him to take in (and much of it he didn’t).

Behind him, the once familiar booth now turned to earth and crumbled down upon itself. To make matters even more abnormal, a gigantic cloud tree sprang forth from the ground and began raining down upon the rubble—turning it to mud and flowing hence forth down the opposite side of that hill.

He stood dumbfounded looking at a slender man who had suddenly appeared as he always did in a bright suit—as if to find some certainty he hadn’t gone mad. He found no certainty of any sorts. Instead, the man lifted his head upright in utmost satisfaction, saying, “Shall we carry on then?”

“Carry on?” Mr Fauldon exclaimed, “I just saw a man walk through that door naught but moments before. Sir Hilton was his name. Have you seen him?”

The stranger seemed astounded at the preposterous thought of yet another person. “Sir Hilton you say? Never heard of him. Now, if you please, Mr Fauldon, might we progress?” He (the strange man in suit, of course) motioned with his body down the winding hill.

“And who might you be that I’d follow ever so blindly?” Mr Fauldon asked, not moving an inch.

“You may call me sir Knowington, dear sir. Now honestly, if you don’t mind, shall we continue with delay of pointless conversation or jolly well got on our way?”

He had no choice but to follow (or rather he had simply not thought of anything else more reasonable to do). And who might blame him? He’d long since lost sight of reason as he knew it, and so they proceeded through the all-too-queer land of some totally different reality. He was led down from the hill—the cloud tree still raining its mist and growing larger, and the pile of once familiar rubble now a puddle of mud that ran down and began gathering further on at the foot of the slope and began forming a pond of memories and reflection.

“Well, hello there!” came a distant and filled voice (as if drunk yet retaining some sense of awareness and intellect). And there, in but a blink of unawareness, now resided a table covered in white cloth with a bearded man in blue tux—obviously over-worn and under-washed—and hat sitting behind it (the first impression of course being a gambler of sorts). But that would have been an understatement and quite unfairly a far-fetched conclusion. Upon reaching the table closer, Mr Fauldon could make out several cards spread neatly over it. On each card was a symbol—a simple one of no foreseeable purpose, or so I have come to know.

“Oh, not now!” said sir Knowington in a discontented voice. “Mr Fauldon has no time for such games and business.”

“But alas!” the man intruded, “Might I not, in the least, introduce myself?”

“He might as well,” Mr Fauldon replied. “Not like nothing else is new….”

“That’s the spirit! Welcome to Serve Per Card’s Place—where the deal is and always will be! And just for giving of your time, I shall deal you your first card on me!” The man spoke with such enthusiasm in his work as he drew a single card from his white-spaced deck that he’d flung from his sleeve. The card fell face-up with the symbol showing.

“Hm,” he mumbled, scratching his beard, “the ‘Inquisitor’. It seems your life will be filled with questions I’m afraid.”

“Oh, well what good that is to my situation…” Mr Fauldon sarcastically remarked.

“Don’t ask me!” the man said, “Ask the card! Or can you not read?”

“I can to read,” Mr Fauldon pronounced, “and I need not a card to tell me what to do.”

“It hasn’t told you anything yet,” the dealer laughed. “You haven’t asked it anything!”

“Foolish this is,” said Mr Fauldon, handing him his card, “Here, have your card back.”

“Hmm, very well then. Perhaps another?” the dealer asked, a childish look of anxiety awaiting a positive response (for that’s all he seemed to do with his life—drawing cards).

“Mr Fauldon seems to have had enough, let him be,” sir Knowington said.

“Ah, well too-ta-loo! But here, I’ll at least give you another card free for just having met!” The man’s huge smile was accompanied by a firm open hand.

But before Mr Fauldon could reach out for it, the man had jerked his hand away, quickly adding, “Never mind that one! Would have hated for you to have Misfortune. Here, have this one—it was mine, but I give it to you!”

His face lit up as Mr Fauldon took it. “It’s blank?” he said.

An even bolder smile stretched across the man’s face. “For now, yes,” he answered, “it is.”

“Very well now!” burst in sir Knowington (who felt as though the whole conversation had been too long already). “Shall we?”

“Where is it you’re going?” the dealer asked.

“To Chestleton,” replied he, and the both of them were off—Serve Per Card’s Place disappearing behind the curve of the road.


SCENE II, Part I:

It was rather shortly thereafter (having passed all sorts of exotic plants and shrubbery and trees) that they came to stand atop a ledge which was overlooking Chestlewood Forest. And of all the bizarre things Mr Fauldon had seen, it was to his relief to finally see some ‘ordinary’ looking trees (though one would not necessarily say a tinted orange oak of yellowish-green leaves was all that normal). Enormous great oaks showed the very outskirts—boasting of their strength in age and beauty. And as they moved deeper in, the rays of light glistening off the thick moss, the trees seemed to grow younger and less compact. Soon enough, the forest had opened somewhat up to a pasture of sorts (bright and majestic trees of different kinds now showing). In the middle of it all—and still a little ways off—lay tiny structures of a small town.

“And what might this place be?” asked Mr Fauldon.

“This, Mr Fauldon, is Chestlewood—a small little town we Calnor are very fond of.” Sir Knowington spoke this with much confidence, straightening his shoulders and putting on his best act. “Shall we?” he said for the fifth time.

“Why do you keep saying that?” Mr Fauldon burst uncontrollably. “You say it as if I knew where we were going, but I have not the slightest clue! I don’t even know anything!”

The last statement gave sir Knowington a queer face (as though he’d never thought of the awkward position Mr Fauldon presently was in). And so he disregarded it, saying, “Oh, don’t cause such fright to yourself. You must have only lost your recollection momentarily. Now, let us keep on, this is not the place yet.”

“Then why are we even here? And where is this CHESTLETON anyway?” Mr Fauldon asked.

“Beyond Chestlewood, of course,” replied he reluctantly. “Why do you ask so many questions?” Sir Knowington chuckled to himself and let it go—putting aside his next line for another time. “Let us proceed,” he simply said.

Upon a closer look at the small town, Mr Fauldon could define clearly the many buildings protruding from the ground in all-which-ways (a sight by which even the ‘Leaning Tower’ would be considered standing straight). All the structures were made of wood—most two floors high with an attic topping them off along the chimneys. Their windows and frames were often over-bulked as if pride were found in the thicker wood. Small scattered stone paths made up where most walked. It felt as though, when passing between buildings, they would fall on oneself at any moment, and yet they looked to have surpassed greatly the effects of time and wear.

“Quite the place you got, but no one’s here,” Mr Fauldon said, scoping the deserted-ness in all directions.

“Of course not!” sir Knowington replied, “They’re all at Chestleton—”

“Why, good evening!” came a shrill voice which sent a quiver down Mr Fauldon’s spine—and sir Knowington didn’t like it either (but more from the side that no one was ‘supposed’ to be there).

“And what would you be doing here, madam Shrewg?” he more so inquired rather demandingly.

“Oh, just making sure I wasn’t missing out on anything,” said the old beldam.

“Anything worth missing definitely isn’t here I assure you, ma’am,” sir Knowington replied harshly.

“So who’s the fellow?” she asked.

“Not now, please,” said he before Mr Fauldon could even raise a lip (nonetheless his tongue). “We have been trying to reach Chestleton ourselves all day it seems, and we both could use without any more delays.”

The beldam took a good, long look at the newcomer—her grey, old, fringed hair showing almost as though clear to the light’s complexion. With a crooked smile she spoke, “He looks as though he could use a rest! Come now, come by my place, and I’ll give you some good ‘ole stew!”

“We really have no time to be meddling in other’s affairs, I heed you,” sir Knowington said, giving over the choice to Mr Fauldon (who was utterly lost in his senses).

“Yes, I think I could use something to eat,” said Mr Fauldon, not remembering the last time he’d eaten a decent meal.

“Ah, good, good!” the old lady rejoiced, bounding up the path to the right with surprising youthfulness. Mr Fauldon followed behind—a slight heat to his chest (maybe it was his exhaustion or maybe his hunger, he did not know).

Not only did she live in a corner cottage, but they had to pretty much back-track all the way to the front of the town to get there. The widowed old woman spoke proudly of her shrubs and heterogeneous plants (in particular the ruby bush—not to be mistaken for the ruby thorn weed).

“This is it!” she announced, bouncing (as if it were) through her old, creaky shack door.

“Careful, my friend,” said sir Knowington, “This is prime time to make acquaintance—you for sure don’t want her on your ‘non-friendly’ side.”

“Come in! Come in!” beckoned the beldam, removing a large stew from the smoldering fireplace.

“You were expecting us?” Mr Fauldon asked astoundedly.

“Of course not! Who would want to visit poor old me?” she replied (besides, she would probably have eaten the whole thing herself had they not shown up).

“Oh, hush now,” sir Knowington spoke, sitting himself calmly at one of the three stools. (Interestingly enough was it that she had but three sit-able stools, three eat-from-able bowls, and three usable spoons at the time. There was, of course, other miscellaneous furniture and artifacts, though all seeming near their death to crippling age.) “You know we can’t stay long less the Lighthouse go around three turns, there is no need to fill us with extravagant tales of self-pity.”

“Why, is that not up to you but to my new guest?” answered she all awhile serving them. “My dear, do you wish to hear a tale of old? I shall tell it to you now if you so choose.”

“By all means,” Mr Fauldon agreed, “I should do well with stories of this foreign land, for it is still but an awakening dream to me.”

Both of them—the beldam and the ever-so-persistent-accompanyist—stared with blank faces at his remark.

“Ah, but surely you shouldst soon wake to this reality,” said sir Knowington, more so to reassure himself of his decision.

“But an ever so strange reality this is to me—nothing like the one of which I thought to have known,” Mr Fauldon said.

“Indeed, reality in of itself is strange—regardless how unfitting such a word be. But you shall come to it all the same in due time. Now please, do eat since you ever so gullibly complied to this unnecessary deviation from our task.”

“Oh, quiet your temper, Wisum!” the old beldam cracked, rapping her spoon across the rim of sir Knowington’s bowl. “Now, where was I? Oh, I recall! It was fourteen hundred eighty six turns ago,” she began (the equivalence, of course, to fourteen hundred eighty six days for us, though one turn not actually being anything like a day.. go figure):

“For there he stood, teeth in glisten,

A heart of purest reason—a mind

Filled with good intent, and a

Sword from which evil he did

Vanquish, its edge of top awaiting

To pry at life; its edge of bottom

To be filled with glutton. And so

He held forth true judgment,

Careful not to be overcome by

His lusting weapon—”

She began stirring the pot of stew; her eyes were wide with the absorption of the tale. He hadn’t noticed it before, but now he could make out faint figures in the vapor that steadily arose. In them, fish (bearing much resemblance to that of sharks, only with a feather-scale-like complexion) were swimming about a single form protruding from the center of the stew. She proceeded with the words of which he did not care to hear, his mind as a whole trying to simply grasp the moving shapes in the stew.

The tale proceeded as so:

“The figure standing amidst the fish looked down

upon another form—which knelt so low so as to have

its head touch its toes. The figure looked

shamefully upon the wretched form, stepping

forth with a heavy foot—his great sword (of some

vegetable of sorts) dragging behind him. Kneeling

down himself, the two were now head to head.

“Sword behind him in one hand, the figure

lifted the weeping form with his other—so as

to remain on his knees instead. The form, once

in tears, was now rejoicing—though in an instant,

all the fish scattered. From behind them, another

form arose, taking up the sword and striking the

first...”

Mr Fauldon was nudged back to his senses, looking dazzledly at his surroundings (much like a child returning from a fairy-land tale). “What was that for?” he inquired disappointedly to sir Knowington (who had been the one responsible for breaking his concentration).

“It is late,” he replied as if it were good enough an excuse.

“But what happened? Who was that assailant? Why did he kill the first?” came Mr Fauldon’s stampede of questions, the interest of a child burning in his eyes.

“Why, did you not hear anything I said?” remarked the beldam, taking up his empty bowl (he hadn’t the slightest recollection of ever finishing it) as well as sir Knowington’s, and placing them into the empty pot of stew.

“You have finished eating and are undoubtedly refreshed now, so we might as well, if you please, continue on our way,” said you-know-who.

“Oh, have patience already!” cried the beldam, turning back to Mr Fauldon with a smile. “The ‘words’ you missed go as such:

“Though wielding he the sword of

Judgment, death he never sought. And,

Looking deep into the eyes of the

One guilty of crime, he forgave—

Taking it upon himself and giving a second

Chance, knowing it a worthy action. But

This act, in the hunger of the sword,

Found discontent within itself, and

The sword called upon its own judge,

Who, being as corrupt and yielding to intent, wielded the

Sword and took the innocent life in

Place of the one forgiven.”

“Oh my, what an act of heroism he did!” Mr Fauldon exclaimed.

“Yes, indeed,” said sir Knowington, glancing toward the beldam and addressing her, “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we best be on our way.”

She smiled at them both with her crooked teeth and wrinkled skin, “And thus you shall! It was a pleasure bearing company!”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Mr Fauldon gratified, “the pleasure was mine.”

“Hm, well, for your time I now grant you the rear door,” she said, pointing (with a freckled hand) to a door in the back. “It should make light this delay.”

“Ah, in that case I myself am grateful!” sir Knowington replied, leading Mr Fauldon to the door. “Now, shall we be off?” he asked, and they proceeded through.


SCENE II, Part II:

To say the scenery was still a shock to him would not have been the half of it, for it had completely changed. Mr Fauldon himself couldn’t even find the door through which they had just used (and what was with all these appearing and disappearing doors anyway?). Before them, tall limb-and-leafless trees stood having an orangish-brown appearance (similar to that of a totem pole, only having more ‘natural-like’ carvings). And along the single winding path leading further on and up were the strangest of red grasses (mixed with purple pick-a-dillies).

“What is this place that nothing is as it should be?” Mr Fauldon asked, all awhile he suddenly realized that the streaks of silky wateriness above him were actually genuine streams of water flowing independently of the gravity that held most of everything else. (And another fact of reality: these ‘torrents of water’ replaced the need of the gloomy, sad, and depressing aura that clouds brought. Instead, whenever the Beasts of Rayne that swam through them like turtle-whales strayed too closely to the currents’ edge, their fins would scathe it, causing a break in concentrated flow and sending forth trickles of descending water—what you call rain. And there you have it, yet another phenomenon.)

He needn’t have asked again, for sir Knowington knew well the face that showed—though for him it was hard to grasp why so, being as it was always as such to him. “You ask far too many questions to be productive, you know,” he said with an onward look.

And so they walked past the algae turtles and yawning mushrooms with faces, coming up to two large bronze gates that were supported by massive boulders which stretched like walls around either side and back. To their left lay a hidden staircase (which wasn’t so seemingly hidden, for sir Knowington quickly ascended them). Reaching the top, Mr Fauldon could finally catch a glimpse of the magnificent, marble city of Chestleton.

“Here inlays the pride and proud of all Calnor,” said he with satisfaction.

“Calnor? You keep saying that. What exactly are they?” Mr Fauldon asked.

The statement terrified the man (if one could say his response held any such sense of personal involvement, rather just dazzlement at the stupidity of new-comers). “Why, I myself am one!” he pronounced, just as quickly shrugging it off with ignorance. “Now, please follow me to the Hall.”

As they descended the city streets, Mr Fauldon could hear his name being called out from behind. “Why, hello there, traveler!” It was Serve Per Card (though how so he had not the slightest reasonable clue). “How fanciful for you to show on such an occasion!”

Even Mr Fauldon could tell that the man intended more business—having already motioned toward his table and deck of cards. “I have another special offer for you, if you spare the time... and I see you are still with the guide!”

“Could your inconvenience be of even more inconvenient timing,” commented sir Knowington, hoping to have simply brushed by, but the man had grabbed hold of Mr Fauldon’s sleeve.

“It is you I ask of,” he reiterated. “Have you used that card yet?”

“What card?” Mr Fauldon asked—and it suddenly struck him. “Oh! I had completely forgotten….”

He drew forth the blank card.

“Ah, there you have it. Go ahead; make a request!” the gambler intrigued.

“Now?” Mr Fauldon asked, not wanting to do so.

“Yes, ‘now’. I want to see you use it—after all, what is a gift that has never been opened? Shall it then but go to waste?”

He paused for a moment. Of all the hundreds of millions of questions to ask, he was finding it hard to think of even just one. “Uh... how do I use it?” asked he.

“Just ask a question. It’s as simple as that! You need not quote fancy riddles or perform pointless ritual, just ask, ask, ask!”

Mr Fauldon looked back to the card. “What is Sir Knowington’s real name?” he asked it (having not the slightest idea as to why that question in particular had arisen above the other and more reasonable ones).

The card shuttered briefly before glowing a tinted white. Words then began to etch themselves upon its surface when—and rather suddenly so—a firm hand took grip of it and covered the writing. He looked up at the card dealer who spoke sternly but with smile. “Within reason, of course. Show Mr Fauldon his heart,” he demanded instead.

The card once again lit up, only this time its edges turned into that of autumn colors.

“Well?” the gambler anxiously spoke, “What is it?”

“It’s a picture... of a girl—a beautiful one,” Mr Fauldon replied (a familiar and yet completely unknown feeling overtaking him).

“Ah, very beautiful indeed,” complemented the dealer, “You’d do great to treasure that face—it’ll bring more than just light and strength to you if done so wisely.”

“Why? What must I do? And who might this girl even be? Do I know her—”

“Tush tush tush! Slow down! ...Maybe revealing to you the Inquisitor wasn’t such a good idea. You need to learn patience and temperance, my dearest client.”

It was at this time that sir Knowington stepped into the conversation. “You’ll know soon enough,” he said.

“And why not now?” Mr Fauldon probed.

“Exactly, not now. Or at least yet,” sir Knowington restated, turning back to the dealer, “For we must be on our way. To the Hall shall we go then?”

“Well, here!” the dealer exclaimed, desperate to deal business with Mr Fauldon if only for one last time. “I return to you the card you returned to me as a parting gift. All you must do is ask it should questions arise. Remember that, my inquiring friend, that the card may serve you well.”

And they were off—Mr Fauldon once again finding himself with nothing better to do than to follow the ‘guide’. Such a queer place full of questions unanswered. Who could choosingly live in such a bizarre world? It was as if everything had lost its sense of reality and the norm.

Thus so, he was led into the most magnificent hall he had ever seen. The palace structure itself towered above the proud city of marble and marvel, though compared nothing so spectacular as the Hall of which to it led. Massive pillars arched overhead and extravagant stones formed the walls between them. Streaks of green and yellow flowed across the floor and ceiling like veins giving of life, warmth, and comfort. A deep blue velvet carpet held the middle, running from door to door (that is, from where they had entered and all the way to a glorious elevated throne of indescribable, petrified wood, the palace door just behind it).

“Welcome,” came a deep, reverberating voice of a man seated on the throne. He wore the most genuine of red cloth, complemented by his purple robe and golden spectacles. His face was set, jaws firm, and he bore the longest sideburns Mr Fauldon had ever seen. All in all, he looked as though he was once a man not to be reckoned with, the kind that may have been looked upon as a hero. “And who might this one be?” he spoke already-knowingly.

“This is he,” replied sir Knowington (standing more postured than he had previously been, if that were ever possible).

“Would you be ever so confident in this one as well?” the man asked.

“It is so,” answered sir Knowington.

“Yet he looks weary and unfit for any task,” the man further added.

“But he is all the more prepared in heart,” said sir Knowington.

Keyno (for that was what the bearded man went by) looked prolongingly at Mr Fauldon, a hand lifting to scratch at his rough face. “What is your name, traveler?” he asked.

“Mr Fauldon,” replied he, straightening out his throat (for it seemed frogs loved his throat as of late).

“And are you true to your word, Mr Fauldon? For it is one’s word alone by which he stands—whether that be in confidence or shame.”

“Why, yes,” Mr Fauldon confirmed, “I am a man to my word, less fate say otherwise.”

“As often it does,” Keyno spoke, a glance back at sir Knowington with the raising of a brow. “And would you be willing to bear this task as its sole carrier—being it your fate?”

“Yes—” came the ever so unpredictable word of Mr Fauldon (not at all knowing how it had come out so). He swallowed down his regret and tried to hold true, regardless of the fact he had no clue as to what he had just agreed to.

A satisfied look took to Keyno’s face as he leaned back. “He looks somewhat dazed as of still yet. Have you acquainted him with all the unfamiliarities?” he said to sir Knowington, who also showed signs of relief.

“No, my lord. He seems to be yet awakening to all that surrounds him,” he answered.

“Ah, well then, you shall accompany him as his guide and guardian. Now bring forth his coat,” demanded the Calnorian lord, and Mr Fauldon’s old, withered coat was removed from him. With it off, he could feel the waves of cool breeze lurking through the Hall and shuddered.

“You needn’t wear that anymore,” Keyno added, nodding to the side, “but one of mine.” And there appeared, hanging on a stand, a new clean coat of a red leather (that of the Korgath hide).

“Bear it well,” Keyno proceeded, “and never take it off so long as you’re here. For it will be what all shall know and recognize you by. And that you shall hence forth be known as Karier of the Task. Journey you now and seek out sir Grievous, from whom you shall receive further instruction.”

Mr Fauldon took the coat and placed it on (and I can guarantee never before had he fell so in love with a perfectly fitting coat).

“Go now, Mr Fauldon. And may you be guided well in the presence of sir Knowington,” Keyno said, slumping back into his majestic chair to soon be consumed by swaying thoughts.


SCENE III:

The radiance of the sky infiltrated every crevice of creation before them. Mr Fauldon stood dazedly upon the cliff’s edge overlooking the vast terrain of odd-shaped tulip trees and illuminated rose-flowers. It seemed that the landscape was content with the soil about it—neither striving to compete nor overcome by feeble things. And so his sights turned to the horizon. “What is that way?” he asked of sir Knowington, flinging his arm far to the right and toward an all-too-distant wall that towered above and behind everything else—the coney hills, the viney plains, the crusted cliffs, and even the three-palm elms of enormous-tude.

Sir Knowington’s head jolted back as though it were a preposterous question of near insult. “Of all things to ask, you turn swenward and wonder what lies behind the unseen? How is it that your kind’s curiosity outdoes your sense and does so ever consistently? That, my friend, is the Wiliswall.”

“I never knew of a Wiliswall,” said Mr Fauldon.

“Not a Wiliswall. The Wiliswall. There is only one Wiliswall,” answered sir Knowington. “To confuse that you might as well say you are just a Fauldon—and by doing such, remove any significance of being original. Now, if you don’t mind, shall we proceed swenward?”

“You should respect my asking a little more,” said Mr Fauldon as he arranged his composure within his newfound coat. “After all, I’m not the one whose name is ‘know-a-ton’. And swenward? What on earth is that?”

“This is not Earth, Mr Fauldon,” sir Knowington said, “so there is no ‘on earth’ here. Here, there is no north, south, east, or west.”

“But how then do you have any sense of direction?” Mr Fauldon asked, altogether dumbfounded. “Where is the sun in this place?”

Sir Knowington took a breath in his bewilderment of Mr Fauldon’s lack of understanding. “The ‘sun’ you ask for is that lighthouse.” He pointed to the right before adjusting his spectacles. Sure enough, there stood, beside a large mountain of preposterous proportions, a lighthouse unlike any he had seen before. Its supports, like clockwork, wound their way up to the light. It was at that moment Mr Fauldon remembered the beldam’s reference to rotations as time.

“So… like a clock?” he inquired of sir Knowington.

The man shrugged to the simplicity of Mr Fauldon’s assumption. “A little more, I would have to say. In fact, it ties into our very conversation on how we’re wasting time asking such demeanor questions.”

“So which way is that lighthouse?”

“That would be swenward.”

“So we are headed to the lighthouse.”

“No, you just asked which way the lighthouse was. We are headed to where you shall receive further instruction upon your task.”

“And where is that?”

Sir Knowington brushed aside the embarrassment of the childlike questions (after all, Mr Fauldon’s name was far from resembling ‘knowing-a-ton’). “That would be there,” he implied, physically pointing his hand for the sake of not confusing Mr Fauldon more. And to his hand Mr Fauldon looked, following it down across the oakriss valley and collection of trees and jagged-jutting mountain ledges. It was a canyon of winding forests and plateaus and just beyond them (before the crest that led into gloominess craters) lay a settlement of sorts.

“You see that there?” sir Knowington asked, “That is known as the city of Mauhg, also the place of dwelling of Sir Grevious, to whom you seek the furtherance of your task.”

And just at that moment there came a man up the hill toward them. His clothes were loose garments of green and brown linen and resembled much of those who traveled without rest. “Hello there!” he cried out, a thin-bodied voice that was fitting to his clean-shaven face. He continued so: “I was but sitting down yonder and heard the mentioning of the city of Mauhg. I wonder if I might perhaps accompany you. For I have been in need of crossing the river Floweth for several turns now and would appreciate the assistance of ones with know-how.”

“And so shall you learn—the both of you,” said sir Knowington, “for there is a bridge now further swen of it to which we shall journey.”

The traveler was overjoyed and turned with anxiety toward Mr Fauldon, “Ah! And you must be the new Karier! Bless my ankles, I surely thought I would never accompany such a privilegee. I am Nomad—at your service. Well, at least I like to be called Nomad. My actual name is Nomadicus in full and Nom by calling. I am not from these parts, rather the far lands of Distontay. It has been my dream to settle down and raise up a town.”

“Quite the endeavor you have,” sir Knowington added, not in the least bit caring. “Shall we be on our way now? There is some footing to be done yet before reaching Costle Bridge.”

“Right! Then off we go!” Nomad charged (only in a matter which allowed sir Knowington to lead, for he knew not the way).


And so they strode down the hills swen of Chestleton and toward the Hygh Pass cliffs. Mr Fauldon could not keep count of how diverse his surroundings were in the least. The stone palms wove themselves about every slope of dune grass; lilies of fruit sprouted the edges of their winding path and they ducked beneath clovers the size of small trees. Petrastone wood was more than abundant about them in those hills as they neared the outskirts of Chestlewoods and to the sound of the river Floweth.

Nomad was perfect company to Mr Fauldon and just as admiring of the plethora of life and terrain—only he seemed to know of it all, or at least the traveler claimed (though Mr Fauldon could have sworn he saw the man always glancing at encyclopedias stashed all about his person). The man was full of energy and admiration—something sir Knowington seemed to lack altogether. Yet the guide led them on and at good pace despite the many inquiries Mr Fauldon wished to make and Nomad’s seemingly prompt reading.

“Look! There!” Nomad had quickly proclaimed. Mr Fauldon froze in step and sight, for just a little ahead and on up the slope poised a faerydeer (but that did not stop Nomad from swishing through his papers to find its description). “It’s a faerydeer!” he exclaimed. “They are said to appear when the bonedilies are near bloom and are renowned for the pollen they sweat.”

Nomad’s expression seemed confused, as was Mr Fauldon’s. Such a weird trait to be known for one’s sweat. But Nomad kept reading: “Their sweat is essential to nature’s pollination and integration of kinds, allowing species of plant to travel vast expanses and find home next to the bonedilies for protection.”

“Bonedilies?” Mr Fauldon inquired. “What are bonedilies?”

It was then he caught sir Knowington’s gaze just off to the left of their path. Sure enough, there resided a bonedily as it stretched itself to the veins above. It was naught but ten feet tall and bore membranes of boney substance (resembling that of a venus fly trap in composure, also taking notice to the travelers passing by it—that being sir Knowington, Nomad, and Mr Fauldon). In a sudden jolt did the bonedily sweep toward them. Mr Fauldon had but enough time to spread himself upon the ground as it chased Nomad to the opposing ledge. It was then that the faerydeer leapt in. Mr Fauldon could not put into words the magnificence he saw as the faerydeer swayed the bonedily away from Nomad and soon had it postured back to the sky above. The pollen brushed against the stem of the bonedily until, in soothing submission, it became still again.

“Well, then,” sir Knowington remarked, “have we had enough excitement to continue moving?”

Nomad, still slightly shaken, was back upon his feet, seemingly fueled by the adrenaline. “Yes!” he agreed, “That truly was exhilarating! My second encounter with a bonedily now successful!”

“Second?” Mr Fauldon asked, brushing off his shoulders and knees. “Then what of the first?”

“Oh, no need to go in depth there,” said Nomad, “Only that I am now in good company.”

“And also in sight of Costle Bridge,” sir Knowington added.

Much to Mr Fauldon’s relief, there resided just on down the last slope a glimmer of the waters of river Floweth. The humming sound now came to him in full as though a breeze were swirling above their way. He was reminded of the warmth and comfort of his coat which bore no stain from his recent visitation with the ground. Any bits of dirt or moist seemed to roll right off it, though his shoes spoke otherwise.

“Who would have thought I was so close to it this whole time!” Nomad announced, not in the least ashamed as they proceeded down the slope and to the river bank.

The bridge was flat and stretched boldly over the rush of current. It was only that he now stood next to its swarming roar that Mr Fauldon realized the river was actually, indeed, one continuous swarm of thistle bees. He knew them to be thistle bees for Nomad had yet again dove into the wonders of his encyclopedia (which Mr Fauldon was becoming more and more grateful for—after all, it wasn’t like sir Knowington cared to answer all his questions). Then he remembered the card. Pulling it from beneath his coat, Mr Fauldon held out the card. “What of these thistle bees?” he asked, “Why do they flow in stream?”

The card began to gleam and shake as the hum of the thistle bees began to ripple words upon its surface, and he read: “From where they flow the most fruitful grow, and to where they speed, a border between greens.”

“A border between greens?” Nomad reiterated.

“Yes,” sir Knowington said, “Much as the saying ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, so does the river Floweth keep all that is within the greener side. But let us instead cross this bridge, shall we?”

Mr Fauldon would never have guessed the bridge to be made of honey cone. Not the sort of honey cone that seeped of only honey, rather one that teemed with thistle bees joining in the rush. They were not so small up close as they emerged from their cones to join their brothers (in fact, Mr Fauldon could have swarmed he saw one as large as a soup bowl!).

Upon reaching the other side, sir Knowington turned to Nomad saying, “It is here I must ask a favor of you.”

“Aw, yes! Anything to the all-knowing Knowington who has helped me in my travel across the river Floweth.”

“There is business I must tend to for the moment,” said sir Knowington. “If you would, lead my friend here to the threshold of the Protruding Tower and there I shall meet you.”

Nomad’s body bowed in agreeance as the guide in bright suit vanished in a purple dust. “Truly a guide to be zealous for,” Nomad remarked, turning back to Mr Fauldon. “I am honored to assist you to Mauhg, sir Karier of the Task.”

“This task,” Mr Fauldon asked, “what exactly is it? I agreed to it but only because I felt convicted to when in all actuality I know nothing about it.”

The traveler smiled as they continued down the path, answering Mr Fauldon over his shoulder, “I noticed the card you drew at the bridge. Perhaps you’d do better asking it than me.”

And so Mr Fauldon had to yet again resort to the card he neither approved of nor necessarily condemned anymore. “What is the task I carry?” he asked of it.

The words whispered across the smooth surface. “Journey to sir Grevious, from whom you shall receive further instruction,” he read. “But that does not answer my question…”

“Exactly,” Nomad answered him. “That is why you must seek out this sir Grevious first. Maybe then you will learn more of that which you swore oath to.”

Mr Fauldon was beginning to regret agreeing to such a task. Especially now that he was beginning to realize he knew nothing of it. And where was this ‘sir Knowington’ now? Where did he have to go that was so important? Hadn’t the great Keyno himself told the guide to remain with him? Not that he needed a guide for the sake of security, though he was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed again by his surroundings. Perhaps he felt uneasy because sir Knowington had been the only consistent figure thus far. But now he had Nomad.

And Nomad had gained quite the distance before him by now. “Wait, Nomad!” Mr Fauldon shouted. But the cliffs of Hygh Pass rose steep and bent harsh and soon he lost sight of the traveler. “Traveler!” he yelled again, now feeling as a child in a room all too enclosed and dark. About him towered hollow roots of cliffs long unswept. Like web did rock climb the walls. Upon closer look, Mr Fauldon could notice the tiny insects climbing out of the path’s belly and on upward (much like rhino beetles, only without wings or hard shells). He suddenly felt guilty of stepping upon them with his every move, and so he stopped, only to notice more and more of them—his gaze following one in particular that moved against the flow of the rest. This one also seemed to grow in size until it was a proud three foot to Mr Fauldon’s petrified form and not but five feet from where he stood.

“You… seem… loooosssst,” the insect croaked, its look unwavering. “Tell me, booooooy… why don’t you find a plaaaaace heeeere…. wiiiith ussss….”

“Who… what are you?” Mr Fauldon asked, his eyes now getting heavy to keep open and his focus becoming ablur.

The insect replied: “I… am Rhaeeeee… I always am seeeeeking the company of the lossssst.”

He could no longer move. Not that he wanted to, either. He felt as though content with just standing there even though his body grew weary of it. He did nothing to the inching insect as its lungs rattled their luring tunes—only now the insect’s attention was upon something else.

“What’s thisssss?” it asked, drawn to the small card that illuminated from beneath Mr Fauldon’s coat—all while he was still unaware. The insect drew closer to the emerging card (as though a magic trick) that came to levitate between the insect and Mr Fauldon. Slowly did the Henser rise until it had also caught the attention of Mr Fauldon’s numb eyes. The two gazed wondrously into the radiance of mystitude.

“What isssss this?!” the insect demanded, somehow caught in the same trance it had lured Mr Fauldon into. “Where did you get thissssss!” it hissed out at him, its lens starting to dry out. A whiff of dust began spurring about Mr Fauldon, his very fibers beginning to shake, as the insect realized its prey was escaping its clutches.

“Noooooo! I will not let you!” the insect roared as it tore its gaze from the illumination and lashed its limbs at its prey—but Mr Fauldon was not there, instead appearing upon the ledge above the insect, dazed himself as to how he got there. “What isssss this?!” the insect croaked, but before it could lunge again, it was met with a sudden-appearing force. The force was that of a staff.

The staff of Nomad.

“No, say I!” Nomad cried as the insect was beat to the ground. “This man, you shall leave be!”

Mr Fauldon rushed to his senses, seeing Nomad clobber the insect to the dirt. Relief swept over him as did exhaustion, and he tumbled back down the ledge. Nomad came to him and braced him—the insect already vanished into hundreds of rhino beetles continuing up the slopes.

“Are you alright?” Nomad asked of Mr Fauldon.

“Yes, whatever did just occur, it seems I am alright,” Mr Fauldon answered. “To where did you go? I lost sight of you amidst the twists and turns of these paths. Had it not been for your impeccable timing and this card, I may have just failed the great king.” Mr Fauldon looked back upon the blank card that had just saved him and then to Nomad.

“Come,” said Nomad, “let us get on from this place before the next turn.”


SCENE IV:

And journey they did all about the curves and turns of the winding Hygh Pass, tracing back over the path Nomad had uncovered during his strange un-presence. The traveler went on and on about the odd peculiars he had discovered almost as though discovering them again for the first time (his head in constant paring with his encyclopedias, as usual). Be it the rectangular Otis rocks, the bizarre flares of vines that behaved as limbs of an octopus, or the queer eeriness of a gargling croaker (the likes of which were shared by gloating throated frogs).

“And look at this!” he would say, pointing to an overturned plant with scales of dust. Or “look at that!” while pointing to a daisy whose pedals were outstretched on threads of hair. If one trait were prominently noted amidst all the bizarritude Mr Fauldon had beheld in that pass, it would be the prosperity and near boastfulness of a depravity of hydration—for they both, despite Nomad’s enthusiasm, grew wearier each step.

But blessed was the damp soil and laden grass to which they now clang. Mr Fauldon found his acquaintance sprawled about the ground in praise of the moistness. “Why is it you lick the grass?” Mr Fauldon asked, a little taken aback by the strange behavior.

The traveler looked up at him, realizing how weird it might have looked to Mr Fauldon. “Why,” he answered, “it is the dew! Here, try some.” At that, the traveler reached into his linen clothes and withdrew a small cloth with which he proceeded to brush across the surface of the ground. Mr Fauldon gazed in wonder as he saw the damp cloth now struggling to retain any more dampness. It was then that Nomad handed it to him. “It’s dew soil,” said Nomad with a smirk.

Mr Fauldon took it and clamped his fists that the liquid might trickle down his hands and between his wrinkled lips and dry tongue. It tasted like sugarwater with a dash of honey in it (something quite overwhelming when one is just starving the second before).

“How is this possible?” Mr Fauldon asked.

“Why, you are looking at the downspout of Waterryse Mountain,” said Nomad. “It is in the heart of Waterryse Mountain that the thistle bees have their cone haven, and as their aroma is caught adrift by the rising waters, the scent and taste befalls the mountain’s slopes, descending even to where we are now.”

“I am altogether still oblivious to the order by which this place functions. Waterryse? Thistle bees again? Where is this Waterryse Mountain?” asked Mr Fauldon.

“It is just swen of us,” Nomad answered him, pointing to their right and up. Sure enough, in the distance and behind some purple trees, Mr Fauldon made out the mountain (though it was faint from the misty haze of the ascending waterfalls).

“I would much like to visit there,” said Mr Fauldon.

“All in time, my friend,” Nomad replied, “but first you must wait here for sir Knowington, for we have reached the threshold of Mauhg and the dwelling of sir Grevious.”

Mr Fauldon turned back to see (as though he’d been blind to it at first) the rising cliff and the ominous protruding tower. “We are here already? I thought it would be at least one day’s travel,” said Mr Fauldon.

“Ah, but you were with the great traveler!” Nomad laughed. “Alas, it has been an honor to accompany you. Truly, I am grateful to have met the Karier of the Task! I bid you well as I continue to Mauhg.”

“Farewell,” Mr Fauldon bid in return. He’d almost grown fond of the obnoxious traveler and his plethora of books. For a nomad he was quite the informed—something not to be taken for granted considering how un-informative this sir ‘Know-a-ton’ cared to be.

Which begged the question once more: Where was sir Knowington? Mr Fauldon took out the card of Inquiry once more and held it in his arms. Seeing no one about him, the temptation was great. He wanted dearly to ask what sir Knowington’s true name was. It was in moments as such that one felt almost a wave of excitement to do what one was asked not to in secretude. And so the guilty grin stretched across his face as he began to convince himself of it more—only to be interrupted by the exposure of the protruding tower above him. He seemed closer now to it than he was before, even though he hadn’t moved. Likewise, he hadn’t noticed before the ladder scaling the ledge to its trapdoor.

And just like that, the card was back in his pocket as he climbed the ladder.


With a creak did the latch lift to an interior unexpected. The floors were somehow stone-laden and about the old furniture were bags of thin, web-ridden cloths. Only the bookcases were left untouched by the cloth-like material, and upon each shelf were no more than two or three books (all of which seemed to have been petrified, but who reads anyway?).

“So… you come at last,” came a voice mysterious. “I was beginning to wonder if you ever would. After all, I am still just as able.”

Mr Fauldon heard the screeching of steps from a figure in an off-green suit that had seen too much dust. The man’s hefty boots crest the wood and even the stone (which sounded just like wood even though indeed it was not—or at least didn’t look like it). The man caught glimpse of Mr Fauldon’s bewilderment and made comment: “You should see the master room upon the floor above. From there, I can look straight down, even to the outside of this place. Yet, nothing sees up.”

“That is beside the point—” came sir Knowington’s voice from behind a wooden beam on the far side of the room. Both the host and Mr Fauldon were caught off-guard as to how he got there (not that it mattered for they expected no less from the man).

“Why, if it isn’t my old acquaintance. Who would fancy seeing you ensuring the Karier keep his task?” spoke the figure to whom Mr Fauldon had watched descend the stairs.

“You know all too well why it must be him, Mr Grevious,” answered sir Knowington. “You would do well to inform him the best you can—even if only for lord Keyno’s sake.”

Grevious’ face grew a slight taint to sir Knowington’s words, but he shrugged it off quick enough and refocused himself upon Mr Fauldon. “Ah, yes,” he said, “after all, it is all about the new Karier of the Task. What is your name, sir ‘chosen-one’?”

“Mr Fauldon.”

“And did you knowingly accept this ‘task’ as its sole new karier?”

“Yes, I did,” Mr Fauldon answered him (even though he himself was confused as to why he’d agreed to such a task that he knew nothing about). “What, might I ask, exactly is this task? What am I carrying?”

“Ha!” Grevious laughed, reaching out to grab a glass from the table (his hand seeming to ignore the physics that there was a cloth-like material covering the cup and simply picked it up). “Such naivety these days! Then again, I was once the same….”

“Enough mourning,” sir Knowington added in. “Tell him why he is here.”

Grevious walked over to one of the book shelves, grabbing the nearest petrified book (yes, actually petrified. A book, made of paper, made of wood, becoming petrified). Holding it over the glass, he began shaking it until the ink of its words trickled out and into the glass. He looked to sir Knowington as though scoffing at his methods, then turned to Mr Fauldon and handed him the glass. “Why should I tell what the book had contained best…”

And as the words slid down Mr Fauldon’s throat, his mind began to swirl as a voice filled him from within. He felt like tumbling to the ground but instead looked wildly at the spinning objects about him. The table, the chairs, the cloth, the utensils—all the objects of the room were lifted into the gentle whirlwind that was in his mind. To its current did the scene unfold and a voice spoke out to him:

“A Violstone so blue, so filled with red in fainted hue;

A stone which’s veins of essence grow a smoldering sense of fortitude.

It has long since brought the rifts of herald near,

Balancing the cask of lives so distantly clear.

Placed in the Lighthouse, the stone foretells of that which is to remain,

Though the weight of its task adds to it strain—

Such strain that causes a need for it to rise up again.

Thus, a Karier is brought to bring it to its place,

Out of place and to its place, a balance replaced in its wake.

But caution to the one who carries

For a mind in ponderance oft overlooks its pains.

Should such mind finally awake, to distant places will it take,

And the longer the stone without dwell shall be

The more unstable all that is held is becoming.”

Before him (that being Mr Fauldon—or, rather, his mind), unfeld the most peculiar of scenes. A spooned figure fell upon the table’s surface, engulfed by white streams until naught but a sugar cube rested before it. Wielding the cube, the spoon progressed the many chairs that came its way until a fork stood in its path. The two fought over the cube till finally the spoon overcame. Dreary and worn, the spoon approached the last chair and, climbing it, was able to place the cube within the small tea cup. And as it did, the vision erupted to the intruding figure of Grevious as he broke the silk of illusion within Mr Fauldon’s mind.

It took a moment for Mr Fauldon to realize it was over now and that indeed Mr Grevious had stepped nearer to him (all while sir Knowington watched closely).


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